Sooner or later, everyone will need to reach out for help.
Butte County Superintendent of Schools Tim Taylor says his moment came days after the Camp Fire started, when the district tried to reach the 700 employees and 32,000 students who had been forced to evacuate. Officials had to figure out whether it could hold classes. He called Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools Dave Gordon.
“Dave immediately sent some staff up to help us,” Taylor said on Tuesday, when it was announced that the Elk Grove, Center, San Juan and Folsom school districts were also joining the effort to help Butte County, at Gordon’s request.
Combined, the district’s teachers and students will work together to bring some cheer and some normalcy to the lives of Butte County students and school staff. How the different districts will collaborate with Butte County schools has yet to be worked out; superintendents are calling it a work in progress. Classes will begin again on Monday.
“They’ll personally deliver from Sacramento letters of support, donations, emotional comfort, opportunities to visit down here in Sacramento County,” Gordon explained.
Teachers and students will also begin collaborations as Butte County launches online classes and mobile classrooms.
Taylor said he doesn't know how many of the 32,000 evacuated students will return for classes, as more than 5,000 families lost their homes in the Camp Fire. He said that parents who evacuated or lost their homes have the right to choose where they want their kids to go to school.
"We are encouraging parents to go back to their home teacher,” Taylor said, adding that there are “a lot of moving parts."
Taylor says the district still doesn't have a long-term site for grades seven through 12, but hopes to sign a lease within the next day or two.
The district is also looking for more laptops. So far, about 5,000 have been donated. Taylor says there has been an outpouring of support for the schools’ athletes.
Schools with minimal damage might not re-open for months as the search for the missing continues and the neighborhood clean-up begins. "There still looking for a lot of people," Taylor said. "Our dream is to be up there as soon as possible. The experts are saying you'll be lucky to get into some of these schools in a year. So, we're making plans to be down in the valley until it's cleared."
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